Restrictions into opportunities: how boundaries in the life course can shape educational pathways

Adeela Shafi, Jo R Rose

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

9 Citations (Scopus)


This study explores relationships between experiences in initial education, subsequent life experiences/opportunities and the decision to return to education later in life. Semi-structured interviews with seven female returners to education, focused initially upon the women’s perceptions of their aspirations and motivations at various stages, how these related to the choices they felt they had available to them at different points in time, and their sense of agency. Subsequently, the interviewees considered the relationship between early educational experiences, post-school experiences, and their current choices. Thematic analysis of the interview transcripts led to the identification of four main themes: restrictions, opportunities, personal development, and an underlying theme of planning. Consideration of the relationships between these themes led to the conclusion that it was life experiences rather than initial education that both motivated and empowered the interviewees to take advantage of opportunities for higher education.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)212-229
JournalResearch in Post-Compulsory Education
Publication statusPublished - 2014


  • opportunities; restrictions; higher education; personal development


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